A portion of this year’s NFL draft class appears to be pro-marijuana. Of the draft class, a pair of highly regarded defensive prospects, Shane Ray and Randy Gregory, are prized for their abilities to get to opposing quarterbacks, and both have also admitted to marijuana use. Ray admitted just days before the draft.
NFL teams must now weigh their evaluations of the players’ abilities against their concerns about character issues and possible future suspensions for marijuana use because it is banned in the NFL. For some teams, decisions on Ray and/or Gregory, who failed a drug test at the NFL draft combine in February, will come down to how they feel about usage of the drug in question.
One unidentified general manager gave some insight into his team’s thinking: “My estimate is 30 to 40 percent of players in this draft class use marijuana regularly. That’s right in line with our league. Publicly teams act shocked, disappointed about marijuana. Privately we know a lot of guys smoke and we’re far from shocked.”
In fact, the GM’s “30 to 40 percent” estimate may be low. A former defensive lineman, whose 10-year career ended in 2006, told the Associated Press last year that half the players in the NFL use marijuana, at least occasionally.
Another former NFL player stated: “It’s not, let’s go smoke a joint. It’s, what if you could take something that helps you heal faster from a concussion, that prevents your equilibrium from being off for two weeks and your eyesight for being off for four weeks?”
Many NFL players use marijuana to help treat chronic pain and inflammation instead of painkillers which are addictive and have many other negative side effects.